Africa

The government will review receivership laws with the aim of reducing the number of companies that are driven to the graveyard by statutory managers, the Daily Nation reported. Experts say that the current laws provide leeway to entities owed money — whose chief concern is recovery of their loans — sometimes leading to the collapse of companies that could have been saved by proper management. This review would have the effect of making the business environment better for local companies.
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The journey to resumption of trading in Uchumi Supermarkets’ shares on the Nairobi Stock Exchange will start today after its bankers agreed to renegotiate terms of its loans and lift the retail chain from receivership, BusinessDaily Africa reported. The company’s shares were suspended from trading on the bourse after it closed its stores in mid-2006 following a botched expansion plan which led to a Sh1.2 billion loss in 2005 and left the firm indebted to the tune of Sh2 billion which it owed to suppliers and KCB and PTA bank.
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From his home in the quiet village of Rorbas, outside Zurich, Rudolf M. Elmer is chipping away at the centuries-old traditions of Swiss banking secrecy, The New York Times reported. Mr. Elmer, who ran the Caribbean operations of the Swiss bank Julius Baer for eight years until he was dismissed in 2002, moved to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and began parceling out to global tax authorities what he said were the secrets of his former employer.
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The High Court has issued orders lifting the debt-ridden Kenya Planters Cooperatives Union out of receivership, the Daily Nation reported. Union chairman Watson Kimathi said the court ruling was “the perfect Christmas gift for farmers”. “We will now resume operations early next year and farmers will be advised when to start delivering coffee,” he said. The union had been under receivership since October 19 because of a Sh700 million debt to the Kenya Commercial Bank. Deloitte Consulting has been running its affairs.
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Another 2,140 workers at First Quench Retailing, the group behind British off-license chains Threshers and Wine Rack, are losing their jobs after the administrator said it would close 391 more stores by Dec. 20, Reuters reported. Administrator KPMG has already announced the closure of 754 stores with the loss of over 3,600 jobs. It said on Friday it had sold 13 stores and the Wine Rack brand to Venus Wine & Spirits Merchants, sold eight stores to SEP Properties and was still in talks regarding the sale of another 100 stores.
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Wen Jiabao, China's premier, has pledged $10 billion in new low-cost loans to Africa over the next three years and has defended his country's engagement on the continent against accusations that it is "plundering" the region's oil and minerals, The Washington Post reported. Wen made the pledge Sunday at a China-Africa summit here, at which he also urged the United States to keep its deficit to an "appropriate size" to ensure the "basic stability" of the dollar. The loan pledge for Africa was double a $5 billion commitment made in 2006.
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Creditors of companies that go bust in the Emirates are likely to be paid less than in most other Arab countries, creating a deterrent to investment, says a report from the World Bank, The National reported. Policymakers in the country have been urged to focus their efforts on reforming the UAE’s insolvency framework to lay the foundations for a better business environment. Creditors get an average of 10.2 cents (37 fils) in the dollar if a company in the UAE files for bankruptcy, data from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation shows.
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KPMG, the administrators of First Quench Retailing, which owns British off-license chains Threshers and Wine Rack, said on Thursday that 373 stores within the group will close, leading to over 1,738 job losses, Reuters reported. First Quench Retailing, which went into administration last week, operates around 1,200 stores in Scotland, England and Wales and employs 6,300 people. Richard Fleming of KPMG said 247 of the stores will continue to operate until Nov. 25 and 126 until Dec. 2. He added liquidation sales will take place at the loss-making stores, which are to be announced on Friday.
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The Kenya Planters Co-operative Union has been placed under receivership over a Sh700 million debt and its operations taken over by Consultancy firm, Deloitte on behalf of the debenture holder, the Kenya Commercial Bank, Business Daily reported. KPCU managing director Gerald Masila termed the action un-procedural, adding: “We were not informed about the move but we will be responding through the legal channels.
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Timbercorp’s forestry assets have been sold for about $345 million to Australian Bluegum Plantations, a wholly owned subsidiary of US timber investment fund Global Forest Partners, The Australian reported. The company intends to set up its headquarters in the Green Triangle region of Victoria and South Australia, and in southwest Western Australia and retain the employees currently working for Timbercorp's forestry business. About $200 million of the sale proceeds have been allocated to about 10,000 so-called growers who invested in Timbercorp's woodlots.
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